Twenty-four year old, Tatsiana Khvitsko, has defied the odds because she has only four fingers and no legs and has competed as a bodybuilder, runner, and CrossFitter. Four years after the explosion, she was exposed to Chernobyl radiation while in the womb, and sadly her parents abandoned her at an orphanage. There she learned how to walk on her knees. 

At the age of four, Tatsiana was adopted by a family, but at the age of 13 she soon realized that the same family who adopted her had also left her at the orphanage. According to the, Tatisana doesn’t hold a grudge against her parents saying, “they had her best interests at heart.” She was sent to a boarding school in Belarus to live with other disabled children, but the country was not able to appropriately care for someone with her type of physical disabilities. 

Thankfully at the time, U.S. doctors from Project Restoration were in Belarus looking to help children in need. They came across six-year-old Tatsiana and flew her to Kansas City where she was fitted for new prosthetics. Each summer since then, Tatsiana would attend school in Belarus during the year and spent summers in Kansas City to get treatments. She stayed with three foster families while in Kansas City, and she’s still close to them to this day. Then in 2008, Tatsiana made the move to the city and enrolled at a university.

While in school, running caught her attention, and a Florida company donated a pair of running legs. She fell in love with running and soon competed in her first 5K run and ran two half-marathons and several other races. Moving forward she set a new goal — participating in CrossFit. Since she only has four fingers, Tatsiana uses straps to lift weights and requires a safety-box for squats. She’s honest about her frustrations telling, “Sometimes there are times in my gym where I’ll do a workout and I feel frustrated because I have to take time to do the exercises.” And as of recently, Tatsiana competed in her first bodybuilding contest — she doesn’t allow her disability to hold her back. 

Simply put by the motivational athlete, “Running made me realize that it was okay to be an amputee. And every time I put on my running blades I feel like a badass’.”